February 9, 2014
The Department of Elections on Friday signed off on the signatures gathered for a June ballot measure by supporters of height-limit restrictions on waterfront developments.
Early last week, environmental and neighborhood groups submitted more than 21,000 signatures in support of the measure. They needed only 9,702 to qualify for the ballot.
If the measure is approved, proposed developments that exceed current Port of San Francisco height regulations would be forced to receive voter approval. Waterfront height limits generally range from 40 to 105 feet.
Some 400 paid or volunteer workers had spent three weeks gathering the signatures. The Elections Department had 30 days to certify them, but did so by Friday.
The ballot measure comes on the heels of voters soundly defeating in November the 8 Washington St. luxury condo waterfront development, which the Board of Supervisors had approved.
The measure, which would apply to the entire waterfront, would most immediately impact the Golden State Warriors’ arena project just south of the Bay Bridge, along with the San Francisco Giants’ development plans near AT&T Park in South Beach.
Arena project organizers announced they have pushed back plans at least a year beyond 2017.
The Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Initiative has the backing of the Sierra Club — which is also against the Warriors arena — and the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition, according to supporters.
Both the Giants and Warriors have not publicly taken a position on the ballot measure.
Be it ordained by the People of the City and County of San Francisco:
SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Act”
SECTION 2. Findings and Declarations
The People of the City and County of San Francisco declare their findings and purposes in enacting this Initiative to be as follows:
Whereas, the San Francisco waterfront is an irreplaceable public resource of the highest value;
Whereas, San Francisco holds the waterfront in trust for the People of California;
Whereas, it is in the interest of San Francisco to preserve a unique and vibrant vital waterfront with adequate public views of, and access to, the City and San Francisco Bay;
Whereas reasonable building height limits on the San Francisco waterfront have been instrumental in preventing the historic waterfront from becoming blocked and walled off by luxury high-rises and tall private buildings as has happened on many waterfronts around the country;
Therefore the people of San Francisco declare that it is the policy of the City and County of San Francisco that:
The existing maximum building height limits on the San Francisco waterfront shall be preserved and shall not be increased unless a height limit increase is approved by San Francisco voters.
SECTION 3. Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Requirement
Section 61.5.1 is added to the San Francisco Administrative Code as follows:
(a) No city agency or officer may take, or permit to be taken, any action to permit development located in whole or in part on the waterfront to exceed at any point the building and structure height limits in effect as of January 1, 2014, which are set forth in San Francisco Planning Code Article 2.5, unless a height limit increase for the development has been approved by a vote of the electors of the City and County of San Francisco.
(b) Any ballot measure placed before the electors to approve increased height limits for development on the waterfront must specify both the existing and proposed height limits in the ballot question. The failure to specify both the existing and proposed height limits in the ballot question shall render such an increase in height limits void.
(c) For the purposes of this Section, the term “waterfront” means land transferred to the City and County of San Francisco pursuant to Chapter 1333 of the Statutes of 1968, as well as any other property which is owned by or under the control of the Port Commission of San Francisco as of January 1, 2014 or acquired thereafter.
SECTION 4. Effective Date
In accordance with the provisions of California Elections Code section 9217, if a majority of the voters vote in favor of the Initiative, the Initiative shall go into effect 10 days after the vote is declared by the Board of Supervisors.
SECTION 5. Severability
If any provision of this Initiative or any application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect any provision or application of this Initiative that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application. To this end, the provisions of this Initiative are severable.